Winning Sales Proposals

Your proposal is selling for you when you're not there, so it must reflect your standards of professionalism.

Like it or not, sales proposals are a tool of the trade, and writing a well-crafted proposal can mean the difference between winning and losing a client's business, especially if you are selling to major accounts. Decisions can take months. Multitudes of people at different levels in the customer's organization have input and influence. Even in less complex selling situations, the buyer may request a proposal.

In the audio book, "Sound Advice on Sales Strategies," Tom Snyder of Huthwaite, the creators of SPIN Selling says that when it comes to sales proposals, "It's important to keep in mind that a proposal must sway key decision makers and influencers you haven't met, not just the ones you have."

"Consider how you will ensure that these people actually read your document," says Snyder. That means making it as easy as possible for people to read, and focusing the document on the client and their needs. "Build a strong business case that justifies the cost and addresses the client's business issues," says Snyder. "Show how your solution meets the needs and delivers benefits." And, he adds, don't pile all of the technical detail into the body of the proposal.

Decision makers weigh all of the risks before bringing a new solution into their organization, and won't purchase until those are resolved. Face it head-on. "Assess the risk inherent in the decision," says Snyder. "Show how your solution will minimize those risks." For example, the risk of implementation is always a primary concern. Your sales proposal should provide clear implementation plans that show how obstacles will be overcome.

You may need to work through a number of iterations when writing a sales proposal. "Make sure you're hitting the mark," says Snyder. "Check your draft proposal with your sponsor ? your internal champion ? before submitting the final version. "

Finally, when it comes to winning sales proposals, Snyder says it's helpful to remember an old adage, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing right. Your proposal is selling for you when you can't be there, so it has to reflect your standards of professionalism."

Tom Snyder offers advice on planning and executing sales strategies each week in the free audio-newsletter from What's Working in Biz, http://www.whatsworking.biz/full_story.asp?ArtID=92

About The Author

Richard Cunningham is a principal of What's Working in Biz, http://www.whatsworking.biz, a publisher of business audiobooks and online audio programs on marketing, sales, and small business strategies.

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